Former professional dancer graduating with degree in Fermentation Science and Technology

This December, Lauren Sandell will graduate from CSU with a B.S. in Fermentation Science and Technology. Formerly a professional dancer, Sandell made the spontaneous decision to pursue a degree related to health and nutrition.

“I was struggling with work-life balance and had a yearning to return to an academic setting,” said Sandell. She was trained as a dancer from a young age through high school and performed professionally for several years before returning to school.

College of Health and Human Sciences2016 Scholarship BrunchDancing allowed Sandell to travel within the U.S. and abroad. She ventured to Chicago, to Israel for seven months, and to San Francisco. “Dancing consumed most of my time, and I was dealing with recurring injuries,” said Sandell. “So I applied to three universities, CSU being one of them.”

A discovery

Through CSU, Sandell discovered an unexpected passion. She started her education at CSU studying nutrition and food science, then stumbled upon the Fermentation Science and Technology program just days before her first semester began. “I had already been home-fermenting things like sauerkraut and kombucha,” said Sandell. “When I found out CSU offered Fermentation Science and Technology, I knew instantly that it was my path.”

Sandell was the recipient of the Nadine and Jim Henry Scholarship while at CSU. In November, she spoke at the College of Health and Human Sciences scholarship brunch about the impact of private scholarship funding: “Without my scholarship donor’s generosity, I wouldn’t have had the time to excel in my classwork, the flexibility to pursue extracurricular positions, or the financial security to focus on my interests in science.” More of Sandell’s welcome speech can be seen here.

Sandell has been involved with many aspects of life at CSU. She balanced home life with school work, four different food and beverage industry internships, including a winery, a sauerkraut producer, a dietary supplements company, and a third-party testing laboratory, an on-campus job with international students, and a leadership role in the Food and Fermentation Science Club. “I’ve figured out how to prioritize my time more effectively, and I love being busy,” said Sandell. “It’s important to make time for school, but also for outdoor activities, socializing with friends, and spending downtime alone.”

‘I love science’

Through her opportunities, Sandell has been able to sift through the aspects of her field that she likes and dislikes. “It helped me decide which path to embark on within fermentation and food science,” said Sandell. “I love science and I want to go into the food and beverage industry. I’m interested in working within quality systems, through either operations or lab-based work.”

Sandell feels her coursework at CSU has given her a strong foundation of skills for this career goal. Her classes taught her important principles in significant biochemical processes and manufacturing plant processes; knowledge that she applied in various contexts in her internships.

As she moves on from her time at CSU, she offers students with similar paths a word of advice, “Keep finding the things that you enjoy within your specific field and your classes,” said Sandell. “Don’t be discouraged by hard courses; the challenge is well worth it.”

She also recommends that students make strong connections with faculty and staff, “you never know where you’ll end up and they are all great resources post-graduation,” said Sandell.

The Fermentation Science and Technology program is in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.